Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
Ladies and Gentlemen, I leave it to you to decide for yourselves whether to support Proposal 1, the proposed sales-tax increase that will appear on the May statewide ballot. But I urge you to get all the facts before making your decision.
Proposal 1 contains both pros and cons. It is neither all good nor all bad. There are reasonable arguments to be made in favor of Proposal 1; there are reasonable arguments to be made against Proposal 1.
As the product of late-night legislative compromise, Proposal 1 (and the accompanying package of bills) is confusing and complicated by nature. I have previously written about Proposal 1 (http://www.fixthemitten.com/blog/mitten-memo-just-the-facts-on-proposal-1), and will not reexamine its overall structure here. However, I feel compelled to point out one popular misconception about Proposal 1 that must be clarified.
If adopted, Proposal 1 will generate new revenue for Michigan's School Aid Fund. No one disputes this. Many media outlets have suggested or reported that this new School Aid Fund revenue would be dedicated to K-12 schools exclusively. For example, the Detroit Free Press editorial board wrote on Sunday that "[i]f Proposal 1 passes, the largest share of the new sales tax revenue—about $290 million—would go to the School Aid Fund that supports K-12 schools." (http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/03/14/proposal-michigan-endorsement/70306716/). The Detroit News similarly reported that Proposal 1 "is projected to generate an additional . . . $300 million for K-12 schools . . . ." (http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/23/michigan-roads-plan/23891601/). But these statements omit critical facts regarding Michigan's School Aid Fund.
If adopted by the voters in May, Proposal 1 will fundamentally alter the nature and uses of the State School Aid Fund. Specifically, the list of permissible recipients of School Aid Fund money will expand to include not only K-12 schools and school employees' retirement systems, but also (1) career and technical education programs, (2) community colleges, and (3) scholarships for certain students. At this point, we simply have no way of knowing how much of the additional School Aid Fund revenue would be dedicated to these three new uses. It is entirely possible that the majority of the additional School Aid Fund revenue generated by Proposal 1 could be dedicated to these new uses rather than to K-12 education.